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Restaurants Malta - Paradise Found

Paradise Found


Once she got past the gangplank and the anger, Mona Farrugia had a brilliant time at Salini. Maybe it was the washes of blues that calmed her down. Or maybe it was just good old food.

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People cite various exotic things as the catalyst for a life or lifestyle change: a trip to the Andes, having children, having an affair. My one this year came from a humble source, a birthday present. Not only does it not entail far-flung travel but it actually fixes me to the living room. It has not contributed in any way to producing offspring. Come to think of it, it has made me selfish, solitary and re-ignited my love of reading: all traits, I understand, you need to forget if you're going to reproduce.

For my birthday, The Writer bought me a wood-burning stove, a sleek behemoth of cast-iron blackness which guzzles more trees, albeit those which are already dead, than a bulimic woodpecker. If I count the minutes I have done it, I must have spent hours staring at its bright yellow and red flickering flames: they are more hypnotic than an aquarium and need less care than exotic fish. The stove is why I want to go home after a working day, why all my latest recipes are 'slow cooked at 100C', why I simply don't want to go out.

Which makes the whole issue of Salini slightly thorny. TW married a supposed, slightly-ageing, party-girl, and has ended up with a homebody. I'm presuming that there was a heinous reason behind the gift and domesticating me was it. It has worked beautifully. The idea of the shlep necessary between parking in front of the Fortina and walking the gangplank which leads to the restaurant started to seem like exactly the kind of thing I did not want to do of an evening.

Moreover some twit in a tiny car decided to slide quickly into the space TW was reversing into. I found this so unbelievable that I started shouting maniacally at her the moment I got out of our car, now parked another half mile away. It was so windy, so rainy, so bleeding dark, that it was only as the infamous last words 'stupid bitch' came out of my mouth that I realised the car was empty.

Once you do get the horror out of your throat and have threaded precariously in 5 inch McQueen heels to Salini, you do forget it all. They don't have a stove though. In fact, this is the last place you expect to see burning wood unless it is in a kitchen: the effect of the design is that of driftwood: washed out light blues, faded corals, oatmeal. Instantly it reminded me of The River Cafe in London, which overlooks the Thames. Salini overlooks what in summer will be a glorious outside space, the sea, and opposite, a gorgeously lit-up Valletta.  It is so ironic that the Midi building looks so terrifyingly bland from Valletta, destroying that view, yet enjoys one of the most stylish vistas on the island.

Ironic, that is, if you're in the Capital. If you're sitting inside at Salini, it is just wonderful. Moreover, we all adored the food, the setup and our table near the huge windows from start to finish. The Spanish waiter we were assigned was funny and fun and knew his food. There seem to be very few Maltese staff and loads of Mediterranean ones. I detest calling a restaurant to book and being told to 'speak English': anybody answering should have the basics of their hosting language. This is what happened at Salini. So, two gripes – distance and telephone answering skills – over, we get to the real stuff.

The food has a 'concept'. Normally, the word makes me break out in a very unladylike sweat. Here, it works. I knew their menu was 'big' but didn't realise that meant almost half a metre high, which is ludicrous and hardly manageable. It made The Architect, TW and The Blonde flick all their responsibilities on to me. 'You order' they ordered. So much for 'food for friends'.

The idea is tapas: small plates of loads of things Mediterranean and we went a little haywire. Some prosciutto San Daniele Riserva from the Veneto, some nere mammout olives, lovely humammara – a walnut, brown bread, cumin, chilli and pine nut dip – and zaalouk – another paste made with aubergines, tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic, chilli, cumin, paprika, parsley, coriander and black olives – sound like an absolute kerfuffle, but on the table they are tiny dishes of wonderful dips. The only thing that disappointed slightly was the tzatziki, the yoghurt for which is being made in-house. That is admirable, but the dip itself needed to be much thicker: this one was almost watery.

It is lovely to be able to switch from Maltese to Lebanese to Greek to Moroccan to Italian without having to move from your table, and we did this all night. Moreover, every nationality is treated right, the food well sourced. We had an anchoiade de fennueil which the restaurant is rightly proud of. The chicken liver pate is sweetened with orange zest and thyme.

I wanted to see how they make their qarabaghli mimli (stuffed marrows) because I think I have finally cracked the recipe for this without using the dreaded corned beef which had crept into our national cuisine. They manage admirably: the mince had redolence of the all-essential bacon, the marrows were crinkly and crusty on top and the filling was not at all dry. The tajine bil batata wal jilban, lamb shoulder with the usual melange of vegetables, ginger, saffron, black olives and preserved lemonds, was the closest we were going to get to Morocco without leaving the island. Even the koxxa tal-fenek (rabbit leg) with red wine, garlic, bay, rosemary and peas was closer to the real thing than most stuff you find in Mgarr these days.

Just in case the huge menu is not enough, there is another little menu for desserts. Little, of course, by comparison. It is probably the longest dessert menu in any restaurant on the island right now, and contains no less than twelve items from Italy, Spain, Lebanon, France and Malta. So for the first time ever, we could order a gelat tat-tieg (wedding ice cream) and the mqaret (fried date cakes) are drizzled in anizetta.  I think this was the point where I passed out from eating so much.

Salini is fabulous. It is great for a group of friends, especially because with so many dishes, it is practically impossible to leave out even the vegans. Regardless of how large it is, a couple does not feel lost or abandoned inside it. I would have no qualms in going there with my lady friends or my wannabe-lady friends. I just love it: if I have to brave the elements for anything, this is the kind of thing I would brave them for.

Additional Information


Address tigne point
Town Sliema
Country Malta


Cuisine Tapas
Opening Hours Lunch and dinner daily

Contact Details

Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Contact Number 35620603434




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Mona Farrugia
September 09, 2010
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Last updated: September 09, 2010
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2.0   (2)
Mario Aquilina
November 14, 2010
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I really like Kitchen Concepts and what they are trying to do. Vecchia Napoli is my favourite pizzeria and I visit them at least twice a month. Wagamama are also good, if a little on the expensive side. So, yesterday I tried Salini together with my wife and another couple. Unfortunately, I won't go again.

I feel that the food is definitely overpriced. Ordering 'lamb shankS' and being given one very small shank standing on top of some kind of broth, accompanied by just a dish of green beans, and having to pay more than 15euros for it is simply laughable. The fact that the waiters forgot the side potatoes and did not bring them even after I had reminded them 3 times about it was also disappointing. To be honest, we were given free sweets to compensate for the missing potatoes but it would have helped had one of the waiters not tried to argue that in actual fact no mistake had been made because one is given either potatoes OR vegetables rather than AND (as actually stated on the menu!). The mezze were good but definitely nothing extraordinary and one would expect to pay less for the very smalls servings given. 8 euroes for 4 small Arayess is frankly too much, considering the service given, which is nowhere near high standard.

In short, yes for Vecchia Napoli, a NO NOT AGAIN for Salini.

Michael Scicluna
October 02, 2010
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Last night went to Salini, I called in the afternoon to make a reservation fro a table of 4 persons. On arrival to my surprise even though I insisted with the person receiving the call at Head Office that the reservation is made, this was not the case as there was no reservation.
We got the massive menu and it has been a while since I had the experience to eat tapas, so we skipped the mezze and just went for the mains we ordered, Chrocette di Patate, and Polpette di Broccoli for all and chose 6 plates as we are not big eaters, if we wanted more we could add other items as we go along. The service was good, the ambience too outside under the stars looking across the lit up captal city. But unfortunately it wil not be a BTE (Back to eat) place. We had the Quails they were dry, Majjal Mixwi bl-GĦasel u SagĦtar, I do not know how it came black a bit dry too. The other dishes passed not so badly. We skipped dessert and went for coffee, even though I insisted that the Espresso to be served hot, it arrived teppid to cool. Beside it was not value for money. I tried but will not return for a second opinion. In the 80's the Corinthia Palace Hotel housed the Al Hana, Lebanese experience, Salin was no match, the chef is still in business and will try him out at St Julians, past the City of London, Mr Halim Wanous.

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